Chicago Tribune Cuts Off Partnership With Journatic

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Mike Fourcher, the editorial head at Journatic, announced today that he was resigning from the outsourcing company because he believed that the company founders “fundamentally disagree about ethical and management issues as they relate to a successful news business.” Fourcher added that he was upset because he believed the Journatic was going off track from what they were originally created for. Fourcher worked at Journatic for 10 weeks. He said that writers and editors were discouraged from doing high quality work to make more money. Chicago Tribune was an investor in Journatic.

In a letter to readers that was published yesterday evening from Chicago Tribune President Vince Casanova, he said

We made the decision after it came to light Friday that a sports story published in this week’s Deerfield TribLocal contained elements that were plagiarized and fabricated. …

An investigation by Tribune editors determined that the writer of the story titled, “Epstein shows effectiveness on the mound,” did not contact the main subject.

One quote attributed to the subject originally was published in a June 7 Deerfield Review story by Bill McLean. A second quote in the TribLocal story was fabricated; it was based on information in a story by Steve Sadin that ran March 29 on
Journatic says it will discontinue use of the freelance writer, Luke Campbell. A review of his previous stories for TribLocal did not find any other plagiarized or fabricated work.

We take these issues very seriously. We will not use Journatic content until we are confident that it meets Chicago Tribune standards.

The TribLocal story was written about a high school pitcher named Aidan Epstein. Material was taken from stories on competing hyperlocal north suburban neighborhood websites. Campbell ended up fabricating a quote based on the story “Epstein’s style keeps hitters off balance” from’s Patch website in Deerfield. The fabricated quote was reportedly from Epstein, his coach, and his catcher. Campbell also lifted a quote from the Sun-Times’ Deerfield Review article “Deerfield’s submariner Epstein left plenty of hitters with that sinking feeling.” That article which quoted Epstein and his coach.

Fourcher found out that Journatic plagiarized the story when Epstein’s father contacted the TribLocal. “His father apparently has a news background and his father read the story and thought, ‘Nobody from TribLocal actually interviewed my son.'” When Fourcher got in touch with Campbell and asked if he had any evidence that documents an interview with Epstein. Campbell said no and said “I delete my notes every week.” Fourcher did not believe that this was credible.

Journatic works with newspapers owned by Hearst as well as the Tribune. Journatic is also close to a deal with a major publisher in Canada.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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